It is common for patients with spinal arthritis to report a worsening of symptoms during cold and wet weather. For patients who live in northern climates, this can mean the aches, pains and stiffness caused by age-related degeneration of the spinal joints may be especially bad in the winter. If you’re dealing with spinal arthritis and wondering if living in a warmer, dryer climate would help improve your symptoms, we hope the following information can help.
How climate and weather may affect spinal arthritis
While there are a number of studies supporting the notion that patients with arthritis experience worsening symptoms in the cold, there is not a consensus that cold weather is the direct cause. The relationship between climate and arthritis symptoms is a complex one and factors such as the following should also be taken into account:
- Colder weather and snowstorms are associated with decreased activity, which can also worsen arthritis symptoms.
- Barometric pressure, especially sudden changes in pressure, are also believed to play a role in painful episodes related to arthritis. These pressure changes can also be experienced in warmer climates as well.
- Seasonal depression and increased anxiety due to the cold may also contribute patients’ reports of pain and other arthritis symptoms.
It’s also important to realize that even if weather can negatively or positively affect arthritis symptoms, spinal osteoarthritis is an age-related, nonreversible condition. Moving to a warmer climate may only have a small impact on how symptoms are experienced and should never come at the expense of other parts of the treatment process.
Treatment for arthritis of the spine
Work with your doctor to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that consists of options like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy, hot and/or cold compression therapy and massage. Lifestyle factors like posture, nutrition and getting regular exercise are extremely important for spine health and should be fully explored before pursuing a move to a warmer climate. In certain situations, spine surgery can also become a serious consideration for patients with arthritis of the spine who have exhausted conservative treatment options and are still suffering from symptoms.
To learn more about treatment options for arthritis of the spine, including the advantages our minimally invasive spine surgery can offer, contact USA Spine Care today. We’re glad to provide a free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.